Illnesses from mosquito, tick and flea bites have tripled since 2004 — CDC

02 May, 2018, 01:44 | Author: Tina Rodriquez
  • Illnesses from ticks and mosquitoes like Lyme, Zika, and Dengue are hitting 'astronomical levels' — and this may be just the beginning

"Where there are ticks, there comes diseases", said Lyle Petersen, head of the CDC's Division of Vector-Borne Diseases.

A new Vital Signs Report published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has found that vector-borne disease cases have tripled in the United States, with upwards of 640,000 cases reported between 2004 and 2016, underscoring the need for stronger prevention and control efforts.

Zika was the most common disease transmitted by ticks, mosquitoes and fleas reported in 2016, with 41,680 cases reported, followed by Lyme disease, with 36,429 cases, nearly double the number in 2004.

Tick-borne diseases in particular are not reported or recognized, so it is hard to estimate their cost and burden, noted Lyle Petersen, MD, director, vector-borne diseases at the CDC, on a media call. CDC is working on "rebuilding comprehensive vector control programs that have eroded over time", according to the report authors, in addition to working with health departments and organizations on improving surveillance, developing guidance, and increasing public awareness regarding these diseases.

Currently, the most common tick-borne disease in the United States is Lyme disease.

More and more Americans are being infected with diseases carried by ticks and mosquitoes, federal researchers reported Tuesday.

While the increase in tick-borne illnesses was gradual, rising steadily each year, the increase in mosquito-borne diseases was more sudden, driven by recent epidemics of West Nile virus and Zika virus. Plus, new vectors, like a tick from Asia that was recently found in New Jersey for the first time, continue to appear and may bring new diseases.

For their study, CDC scientists analyzed reports of 16 insect-borne diseases logged to the U.S. National Notifiable Diseases Surveillance System between 2004 and 2016.

Several factors are likely behind the increase, researchers said.

As a group, these diseases in the United States are notable for their wide geographical distribution and resistance to control.




"Why the increase? Mosquitoes and ticks are moving into new areas nationwide", Robert Redfield, MD, director of the CDC said in a media telebriefing.

The most common mosquito-borne viruses are West Nile, dengue, and Zika, while the most common disease resulting from the bite of an infected flea is the plague.

According to the study, nine new germs spread by mosquitos and ticks have been discovered or introduced since 2004.

"Many of these diseases are sensitive to increasing temperatures", he told reporters on a conference call. West Nile virus, also spread by mosquitoes, is widespread across the continental United States where it is the major mosquito-borne disease. Warmer weather has not only moved the tick population further north and expanded tick season, but hotter temperatures "make mosquitoes more infectious", which promotes outbreaks, he said.

"We understand that Congress and the administration have many hard choices to make", he said.

Agencies can also train vector control staff on core competencies for conducting prevention and control activities.

Taking steps to control mosquitoes, ticks, and fleas inside and outside your home, including using screens on windows and air conditioning when available.

Find and remove ticks daily from family and pets.

As people travel, they pick up new diseases and new vectors, bringing them to new places.

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